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Japanese food: Something from the mountain and something from the sea

Leave space for sushi among this year's Ramadan delights

Dina Ezzat, Monday 18 Jul 2011
Views: 4264
Views: 4264

"It is fashionable now and chic to introduce some elements of Sushi to any buffet – including the Iftar buffets of Ramadan," says Amir a chief waiter at one of the city's best – and indeed most expensive – Japanese food restaurants.

Uncommon Ramdan starters like foie gras, saumon fume or a colourful selection of Sushi, especially of salmon and shrimp have increasingly been finding their ways to the Iftar – and less to the Sohour – buffets of clients willing to pay for a menu that looks immediately more expensive than that typical mezza starters and mixed grill as the main dish.

Those who wish to be even more extravagant include selections of Red and Black caviar.

The typical Japanese miso soup is finding its way to Ramdan Iftar tables, timidly, according to the catering managers of some of the Cairo's top restaurants, who argue that Japanese food still falls behind Chinese food in terms of selections made for Ramadan Iftars that are dominated, for clients of all economic groups, by typical Egyptian meals, Lebanese-Syrian-Palestinian-Jordanian dishes and also by the typical Maghreb recipes of couscous.

"The choices that some, not all, Egyptians go for when they choose their menu either for themselves or their guests is increasingly changing and getting more varied and Japanese food is increasingly finding its way to the Egyptian dinging table," said Omar a co-owner of one of the city's reasonably priced Japanese food restaurants.

According to Omar, most Egyptians associate Japanese food with sushi and sashimi. The world of sushi is quite varied as there are several ways of preparing what is ultimately a simple combination of two of Japanese cuisine’s most crucial ingredients: fish and rice. For many Egyptians, the idea of Japanese food is associated with raw fish but in fact, the sushi is only one part of considerably more varied Japanese cuisine that has many cooked items.

A typical Japanese dish should have something from the mountain (vegetables or rice) and something from the sea (fish or weeds). This balance is one crucial reason why Japanese people tend to generally enjoy good figures, good health and long lives.

Grilling and steaming are two common methods of Japanese cooking, along with boiling. Some Japanese recipes include frying as well.

The most important aspect Japanese food, raw or cooked, is that it has to be oishii – delicious to eat, pleasant to look at, comforting for the soul and good for the body.

And drawing on a wide variety of harvest and seafood, it is not difficult to have oishii meals – all depending on the season, which should be reflected in the colours of the meal: pink for spring, orange for summer, red for autumn and grey for winter.For the Japanese, according to renowned Japanese Chef Takako Fujita, food is "the celebration of nature's feasts."

This is why the Japanese end their meal with the word gochisoosama – which honours nature's blessings.

The following video is provided courtesy of the Japanese embassy in Cairo

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